grey-gardensOverview: Few theatrical productions have a quirkier lineage: “Grey Gardens” is a Broadway musical inspired by a documentary about the lives of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie – eccentric relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who become recluses in their decaying, cat-infested East Hampton mansion. The Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., is staging a production through Sunday, Jan. 4.

What I liked: Broadway vet Barbara Walsh portrays Edith in the first act, set in 1941, and the adult Edie in act two, set in 1973. Each character is batty, but in her own way, and Walsh delivers distinctive-but-never-campy performances. Barbara Broughton brings surprising dignity to her role as Edith the elder, but the unsung hero here is Matthew Stucky, who, like Walsh, masters two very different characters: dashing Joseph Kennedy Jr. in act one and Jerry, a long-haired neighborhood slacker, in act two.

What I didn’t: Andrew and I took The Moms to see this on Dec. 6. Today, when I began writing this review, I couldn’t recall a single song from the production. Also, while designer Russell Methney’s rotating circular stage seems innovative, the décor on his Grey Gardens set is too spare to fully convey the mansion’s decrepit state.

Final word: “Grey Gardens” is an enjoyable enough experience, but – based on this production – it isn’t clear to me why the show has inspired such a cult following.

My rating: Three out of four health code violations. 

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